Ah, Cayo Hueso. On our first day in Key West, the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, we spotted these bicycle Santas on Duval Street. Such a common sight, I almost didn’t record it!

I gained ten pounds in Key West. Everytime I made plans to see someone, it was for a meal: Ellen for early morning con leche, Jo for breakfast, Penny for lunch, Gerri Louise for late afternoon snack, Mary for dinner… this went on day after day for 14 days. It’s a wonder I managed to retain any semblance of my girlish figure. I need to remember the good time I had gaining that weight. Since it’s coming off slower than it went on.

On our second night, November 30th, the night before World AIDS Day, I went to the reading of The Laramie Project at the Waterfront Playhouse. There were three panels of the AIDS quilt hanging there, with names of Key Westers. All friends of mine. For a while there, Key West was losing her funny, handsome, talented men left and right. Reading their names on the Key West AIDS memorial is very very sad, but you have to do it if you knew them. So many men in so short a time. Gay men turned Key West from a dirty drunken shrimper town to the elegant, beautiful party place it is today, starting with Larry Formica’s LaTeDa

Speaking of which, my last blackout was at LaTeDa’s upstairs bar. A huge frozen piña colada with a floater of dark rum on top and an umbrella. I remember the first half of that drink…

Skipper_and_meNo rum drinks this trip. Just food. Like at Kyushu with Skipper. If you were ever a single woman in Key West, you’ve been in love with Skipper. At least once. Most of us still are. A dearer man was never born – why there isn’t a Mrs. Skipper and 10 or so little Skippers running around is a complete mystery to all of us.

Skipper puts together the MARC Christmas party every year, gathering musicians to entertain MARC clients and their families. MARC is the acronym for Monroe Association for Retarded Citizens. Marc_christmas_train_1They have a group home in old town and run the MARC plant store where everyone buys their orchids and garden plants.

And Christmas trees, wreaths, poinsettias, ALL that jazz. The finale of the party is a ride thru town on the Conch Tour Train singing Christmas carols.
The four chick-magnets sitting in the back went along for the ride. Pat_and_victorHopefully, they sang, too!

At said party, I saw plenty of faces I love: like Victor and Pat. They own land in Tamarindo… so many Key Westers love Costa Rica. I would love to see Pat and Victor come back to build their vacation spot here!!! Good good energy, good good people.

On one of our last nights in town, Tom (waving) and Cheryl (next to Jal) had us to dinner along with Uncle Brian and Aunt Peg (next to Tom) and Cheryl’s brother Greg and his wife Pat (at the left end of the table). CherylTom and Cheryl have Bennie who is Ryan’s age, the boys grew up together. Cheryl is a nurse, and I hope she’s forgiven me, but when the boys were little and sick, I called her more than once at 2 and 3 in the morning if I was panicked.

Tom is one of those guys. To say he thinks outside the box is putting it mildly. He has an outhouse that he built in his garden. A beautiful, modern, brightly painted outhouse made of found treasures and OPT (Other People’s Trash). Energy_efficiency_controls_1When you see his, you definitely want one. They have an Airstream parked in their side yard that is all fixed up as the boys’ sleepover room, their guest room. Only in Key West.

Everything you see in their house comes from Salvation Army. Everything. Except the timers. All his lights and fans are on timers because he was sick of coming home and having everything on. So when you are at their house, as you pass a timer, turn it all the way on… he HATES that.

Key_westI took this last shot as we were driving back to Miami, loaded for bear, to catch our flight home. This is the picture that pops into my head when I think of Key West. Another sight so common to me now that I almost didn’t record it! This is the image, the dream view, that keeps everyone coming back. They can’t believe it in Kansas.

But it’s 9:30pm on New Year’s Eve as I type this. And the fireworks have started. Once again, our neighbors are part of the fun. Pieces of firewords just landed on our roof! If Christmas Eve was any indication, it’s going to be long and loud till 2am… Luckily, the view from here is pretty enticing as well. How did we get so lucky???

Hope your celebration is as wonderful, where ever you may be in the world.
Pura vida, Saratica

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